Data Highlights Consumers’ Continued Struggle with Tough Economy and Increased Efforts to Represent Themselves

Seattle, Wash — Avvo, Inc. (, the world’s largest lawyer ratings directory, today revealed the most popular legal issues in 2010 according to the site’s usage data. Results indicate Americans are dealing with legal problems related directly or indirectly to a stagnant economy, and are more often handling these issues by finding ways to represent themselves.

Immigration, Criminal Defense and Family Law rounded out the top three most popular legal issues, followed by Divorce, Bankruptcy, Employment, Child Custody, Landlord, DUI and Real Estate.

When the economy is good, there is divorce. When it’s bad, there is more divorce,” said family law attorney Kelly Chang Rickert of the Law Offices of Kelly Chang and the Divorce and Family Lawyer Blog. “However, when money is tight, people spend less and look for more opportunities to practice ‘people’s law’. I have seen this rise in self-representation, also called Pro Se. People are now doing their own legal research, and because there is a wealth of information out there, it’s easy to educate yourself.”

Chicago immigration attorney Kevin Dixler has also seen an increase in the number of people handling legal issues on their own, but warns making any mistake during the process can lead to costly delays.

“Too many mistakenly think if they fill out the form and pay, they get the visa. This has proven costly because filing fees and expenses often exceed $1500, and a resulting denial hurts a person’s pocketbook even more,” Dixler explains. “Many need to wait and carefully consider all alternatives. An experienced attorney understands these realities and can take the time needed to explain the situation to someone whose culture, language and sense of justice may make it difficult to understand the process.”

The usage data incorporates user activity in Avvo’s lawyer directory, question and answer forum and legal guides. Specifically, hundreds of questions have been asked about self-representation.

“It has been a tough year. Despite reports of improvement, immigration, healthcare and economic reform have impacted the livelihoods of many people. We see questions everyday about deportation, unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy or even how to afford a divorce with children,” said Mark Britton, founder and CEO at Avvo. “But the fact that people are seeking out help, and receiving it from the thousands of lawyers who participate in the site, is a positive step toward bettering their situation. And not only does this information and guidance help those who need it immediately, but also the others who search the site seeking the same answer at a later time.”

Adding color to these practice areas are some of the most viewed legal questions from the past 12 months:


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